Introduction: Cephalopod (a.k.a. That Dice Game)

This is a strategy game that I found in the back of Games Magazine years ago. I loved it immediately and my sons could play by the time they were 5--really easy to learn. I kept a copy of it in my classroom. It is challenging to plan and adapt strategies to beat a variety of opponents. One of my students loved it so much that he came during lunch to challenge me. I used it as a bribe to get him to pass geometry (If he passed the class, he kept the game). The standing challenge for everyone else was: if you can beat the teacher, you get to keep the game. I did give away several boxes of dice over the years.

The game was invented by Mark Steere. ( I recommend googling him. He has several other excellent games on his web site. This one just happens to be my favorite. The problem is that Mr. Steere never manufactured the game so I had to figure out a way to keep all the pieces together and keep them together with 100+ teenagers in my classroom every day.

Students who could not beat me, only got to take home instructions for making the box/game board.

Step 1: Materials:

2 sheets of scrapbooking card stock (12 by 12 inches)
Blank address labels cut into 1 inch squares
2 colors of dice--up to 25 of each color
Printout of the game rules

When playing, I have never needed 25 of any color but occasionally I have used almost all of them. Usually 18 to 20 are enough. I get them at Dollar Tree.

Step 2: Building the Box

The box and the lid are both made the same way but with slightly diff erent measurements so that the lid fits over the box. The game is played on the top of the box. The pieces are stored inside.

Lid/game board: Mark lines on one sheet of paper at 1 1/2 inches, 3 inches, 9 inches, 10 1/2 inches. Cut where indicated in the picture. Fold on the remaining lines. The sides of the lid are double layers of paper and each one has a flap sticking out one side. The flap gets tucked inside the adjacent side. It takes a bit of work, but the last flap will tuck into the first side. You can glue them if you want, but I have not found it necessary.

On the top of the box, you will stick 13 one inch square stickers. I had a box of printable address labels (office supply store) that were one inch high so very little cutting was necessary. Make a checkerboard on the top of the lid. Start in the middle and space 2 more stickers between it and each corner of the box. I usually just eyeball it but if you are more OCD than I am, you can measure and make it perfect.

Box: Mark the other sheet of paper at 1 1/2 inch, 3 1/8 inches, 8 7/8 inches, 10 1/2 inches. Cut and fold.

This is assembled the same as the lid but you want the center square to be smaller while at the same time you want the sides taller.

Step 3: Playing the Game

Players take turns placing a die on the board. You continue to play until the board is filled. Count how many pieces of each color are on the board. The winner is the player with more of their color played.

There are only 2 different ways to place a piece: capturing and non-capturing.

Capturing move: if you place your die in such a way that it is adjacent to 2 or more other dice, you may choose to capture some or all of those adjacent pieces. A capture can only occur if you add the pips (dots on dice) on the dice that are being captured and they add up to 6 or less. You may capture your opponent's pieces, your own pieces, or a combination of the two. If you add the pips and get 2, you place your capturing piece with 2 pips showing and you remove the adjacent pieces from the board. (I usually just throw them back in the box so they don't end up on the floor.) If the pips add to 3, place the capturing piece with a 3 showing. If you are playing your piece on a white space, you can only capture from the 4 (or less) adjacent colored spaces. If you capture by placing your piece on a colored space, you can only capture from the adjacent white spaces.

Non-capturing move: all non-capturing moves can be played in any empty space on the board. All non-capturing moves must be placed on the board with 1 pip showing.

Strategies: 6 pips showing are very safe--cannot be captured and are therefore never going to move. Corners of the board play a little differently than spaces on the interior. Sacrificing a few dice may help win a few 6's.

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